September 2, 2009
The 15-year-old black belt thought he was doing his tormentor a favour when he elected to fight back with his weaker left hand. He had heard his white classmate throw an angry racial slur in his direction after an argument during a gym class game of speedball, and now the student was shoving him backward, refusing to retract the smear. The white student swung first, hitting the 15-year-old with a punch to the mouth. The 15-year-old heard his father's voice running through his head: Fight only as a last resort, only in self-defence, only if given no choice, and only with the left hand. His swing was short and compact, a left-handed dart that hit the white student square on the nose. The nose broke under his fist, igniting a sequence of events - from arrest to suspension to possible expulsion - that has left the Asian student and his family wondering whether they are welcome in this small, rural and mostly white community north of Toronto, one that has been touched by anti-Asian attacks in the past. The 15-year-old, the only person charged in connection with the April 21 school fight, faces one count of assault causing bodily harm.This week, 400 students at his high school walked out in protest -- even though he is shy and hadn't made a lot of friends, they supported his defiance of bullying and racism.